” I do not do this bigfooting thing in order to prove or “discover” sasquatches as real animals. I take the position that bigfoots have already been discovered, and we’re just waiting for the academics to catch up. (Much like when Columbus supposedly discovered the Americas. How can one discover what was already known about by thousands of people?)”
– Cliff Barackman of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot from a May 2011 article he wrote on his blog www.northamericanbigfoot.com.
There are many names for Bigfoot…and I find that telling in itself. From Native American and First Nation tribes all over the United States and Canada, there are names for a creature that has a common description: bipedal, hairy, tall and humanlike. Tak-he, Yeahoh, Wetiko, Windago, Rugaru, Kushtaka, Boq…these are only a handful of the native names for Bigfoot (for a more complete list visit: http://sasquatchresearch.net/sassynames.html. )When the European settlers came to this continent, they created their own names for the same creature: Skookums, Skunk Apes, Fouke Monsters, Wood Devils, etc.
The native tribes of North America have been co-existing with Sasquatches for millennia and they have countless tales in their histories about the creatures, along with other native animals. There are printed reports of sightings of a large, hairy, bipedal creature appearing in “white man’s” literature at least as far back as 1811. Sightings from a spectrum as wide as Alberta, Canada to Mt. Katahdin in Maine, all the way down to Texas were recorded in newspapers in the 1800’s.
There is a misconception that Bigfoot sightings only started in the 1950’s when a forest road construction crew out in the Bluff Creek area of Northern California reported large equipment like 50 gallon drums and 48″ culverts being tossed around during the night in the remote construction site and huge footprints left in the freshly bulldozed soil. The first widely publicized casts of Bigfoot prints were taken by Gerald Crew in 1958 after he was an object of ridicule for reporting the strange happenings at the road construction. With the casts as physical proof, I’m sure Mr. Crew felt assured that he would be taken seriously. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of people believed him. And it didn’t help when one of the supervisors associated with the road crew, Ray Wallace, later claimed that he had been responsible for placing the footprints at the site. He couldn’t explain how he got the footprints impressed so deeply into the soil without leaving additional marks nearby, nor could he adequately explain how he tossed heavy items like 50 gallon drums and culverts over untouched shrubbery and into the creek at the bottom of the rise without leaving any signs of the machinery that would be required for such a feat. But the supervisor sure did like the limelight and the reporters ate up such a neat end to a troubling story. Ray Wallace would pop up throughout the next several decades in order to claim that he was responsible for hoaxing all sorts of Bigfoot evidence, including the famous Patterson Gimlin film.
The Patterson Gimlin film was shot by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin in October, 1967 in the Bluff Creek area not far from where the footprints were found by Gerald Crew almost a decade earlier. (Ray Wallace and his road crew were long gone by then, returned back to Washington state where Wallace lived and maintained his business.) Roger Patterson was shooting film for a movie he was intending to make on the Bigfoot sightings in the area. Bob Gimlin was a friend of his who was skeptical of the creature and just along for the ride, so to speak. On horseback, they rounded a bend near the creek and surprised a female Sasquatch across the creek by the water’s edge. As soon as she saw them, she left the area quickly and melted into the dark forest. Patterson was able to get over a minute of film and also took casts of footprints that were left. Some of the film was fairly steady, but much of it was shaky due to Mr. Patterson’s horse being spooked and his following the creature to get a better shot. The best part of the film shows the subject turning to look back at the men. Not only is her face visible, but her breasts are as well. If someone were to fake a sighting of a Bigfoot, why go to the extra trouble of obtaining or manufacturing a “gorilla suit” complete with breasts? The breasts are not rigid, but flexible, as you can see from their movement during her walk. Scientists turned their noses up at the film; most declared it a fake without even taking the time to watch the film. Critics wrote (and still write) the creature off as a man in a suit, regardless of the fact that the top costume designers of the time were not able to make a “gorilla” costume that would display the same type of muscle movement and anatomical proportions. Modern analysis by interested scientists, designers at Nike (who must be intimately familiar with body mechanics), an executive from the Disney Studios, among others has resulted in some very supportive feedback, but the general scientific community remains aloof.
Happily, there are some very respectable names amongst those in the scientific world who are believers….or at least markedly not naysayers. Jane Goodall actually stated in an interview with NPR in 2002 that she was sure they (Sasquatches) existed. She may have subsequently backed off such a positive statement, but she still is firm that the possibility for their existence is sound. Dr. Grover Krantz, the late professor of physical anthropology at Washington State University, not only believed in the existence of Sasquatch, but wrote books on the matter and spent much of his free time in the field searching for evidence. Dr. Jeff Meldrum is a professor of Anatomy and Anthropology at Idaho State University and is also an author on the subject. He has also appeared in various documentaries about Sasquatch.
Recently, near London, Oregon there has been a discovery of over one hundred footprints belonging to two individual Sasquatches, one with a seventeen inch print and the other a fifteen inch print, walking along the shoreline of a lake and a nearby logging road. Cliff Barackman, who himself made casts of 72 of the prints, has been chronicling the research on the prints (some of which is being conducted by Dr. Meldrum) on his blog (the address of which is provided in the first paragraph of this article after the opening quote). It is heartening that evidence of this animal continues to accumulate.
For me, I am a believer. I cannot discount that so many of the Native American and First Nation tribes have knowledge of such a creature and the fact that their creature has the same behavior and appearance as the animal that is being described today, and has been described for the last two hundred years in our media. The evidence on the proverbial table includes not only the famous (and prolific) footprints, but also video taped sightings, audio tapes of distinctive howls, tree knocks (there are not many bears reported to be knocking on trees), human-like “chatter” in remote woods, visual sightings by thousands of witnesses over the decades, consistent olfactory experiences during sightings, stone throwing (again not common to bears, but common to primates), and hair and feces samples that have come up as unidentifiable as any known animal.
I just hope that when the animal we know as Bigfoot or Sasquatch is officially “discovered”, that they will be allowed to continue on relatively undisturbed. After all, the majority of witnesses report that they are not actively aggressive towards humans, but seem to just want to be left alone to live their lives as they have for thousands of years.